Coming from a foreign country and having to assimilate yourself in a new environment is not an easy feat. And not to mention finding your point of difference when competing with local candidates in the jobs market.
According to the Australian government’s Department of Education and Training (see report), there are already 440,949 international students in Australia (as of May 2016), which is an 11% increase from May 2015.
It’s true that the size of the international student pool is on an upward trend which means more candidates competing with the locals for a slice of the jobs pie.
Here’s 5 ways you can differentiate yourself from the crowd in your employment journey, as an international student.
1. You are motivated
The fact that you chose and bothered to pack your bags, uproot yourself and leave your friends and family behind shows that you must have a compelling reason to come into this country to pursue your studies, start a new career or to create a new chapter in your life.
This means that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
While there are sluggards and entitled individuals in every community or society, I have met with international students who work 2 jobs during the weekdays (morning and evening/night shifts) and study during the weekends. Not to mention having to take care of their kids and family at the same time.
2. You are adaptable
Coming fresh from a different country means that you have to hit the ground running very quickly.
Your peers already know the land, language and lingo like the back of their hands.
With this, you need to be adaptable. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to immerse yourself in a different culture and embrace a different way of life.
You might have to start from scratch and leave your familiarities behind.
In addition, some international students I know are willing to undertake a lower-paying job in a different industry so that they can get their foot in the door and then work their way up/around.
3. You are resilient
There will be days when you will question why you even bothered to make the move to go abroad. You might feel like throwing in the towel and just packing up your stuff and going back to your comfortable homeland.
There might be blood (from accidentally cutting your finger in your kitchen hand job), sweat (from working the graveyard shift packing goods in a factory) and tears (from immense homesickness).
But despite all these, you choose to press on and carry on.
4. You have cultural intelligence/awareness
Some people are culturally insensitive/unaware/awkward. It could be that they have been growing up in an environment where every one else looks, talks and behaves in similar ways like them. And when someone who is totally different – in skin, voice, accent, look, food-preferences, etc – comes in, their world is turned upside down.
Because you are an international individual, you understand what it means to embrace diversity and differences.
You don’t see differences as something to spite or to feel threatened by, but as something to embrace, appreciate, empower and learn from.
You love differences because that makes life more colourful. (Pardon the pun!)
This means that you have a better ability to relate with others and operate in an environment with different personalities and opinions.
5. You have a bigger worldview
With globalisation and increased connectivity, the world is getting smaller. The ease and speed of information transfer and exchange can easily transcend international borders. Barriers of entry are lowered. Ideas spread quickly. Goods and services are transacted at breakneck speeds. Countries that are slow to embrace technology and collaboration can soon be left behind.
In the global marketplace, the professional who has cultural and linguistic acuity has the upper hand. Companies which are keen to expand their reach into the region or into the international stage would be able to tap into the cultural capital which international students have.
And on a personal level, travelling, studying and living abroad does inculcate a certain level of maturity and perspective in you, which ultimately adds value to others, your life and your career.
So if you are an international student, never ever think less of yourself. Never see yourself as a “second-class” citizen/candidate/employee/student/individual as compared to your local counterparts, because you are different and you have something different to offer.
All the best!